The Gift of Gifs

For those who do not know what Gifs are, they are a short looping video clip or picture that is typically used for humorous animated purposes.

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Jason Eppink wrote the article “A brief history of the GIF (so far)” and within the article he explains more in depth what GIFs are and how they came about.

Eppink states, “Today ‘GIF’ is typically used to mean an animated GIF file or an otherwise short, silent, looping, untitled moving image. It has a creator who is unknown or deemphasized; it is encountered by an individual viewer on a personal screen where it is surrounded by text and other media; and it is shared casually as a form of identity-making, a cinema of affiliation.”

GIFs can be found on any social media site and even text messages for others to share and communicate about. For most, GIFs are used to generate a laugh about a certain topic or image. Understanding your audience when sending or sharing a GIF is important because if the person that is receiving the GIF is unfamiliar with what is being displayed, then they will not understand it. GIFs form their own genre by communicating in a different way than normal. One could share a GIF with a friend and communicate to them without typing out words or speaking. They can also provide tone or gesture to a text message or post that one is trying to send.

In addition, the creator of these GIFs are typically anonymous which also contributes to its unique genre.

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According to Eppink, “Web creators who wanted to include animated GIFs on their pages saved copies on their servers and hosted the files themselves. Many websites served galleries of GIFs, encouraging others to download and use them on their own sites with little regard for who originally created them.”

Having an anonymous creators contributes to the GIFs genre. Each genre has a certain form that is followed which helps someone distinguish what genre they are looking at.

Kerry Dirk discusses genres in her article and states, “Devitt argues that ‘people do not label a particular story as a joke solely because formal features but rather because of their perception of the rhetorical action that is occurring.’. True, genres often have formulaic features, but these features can change even as the nature of the genre remains.”

The genre that GIFs create are moving images or looping video clips that give a social purpose for sharing with others. GIFs typically have words on them that generate a funny message or saying that others can relate to. When sharing a GIF, one can simply hit the share button without writing a caption because the GIF already has a caption on it. Overall, this genre is simple and easy to use or understand.

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